Kent State University College of Nursing seniors, Alyssa Lodi (back, right) and Anna Hunker (front, right), lead a group of middle school students through simple yoga stretches to promote relaxation and mindfulness during the health and wellness fair.
Kent State University College of Nursing seniors, Alyssa Lodi (back, right) and Anna Hunker (front, right), lead a group of middle school students through simple yoga stretches to promote relaxation and mindfulness during the health and wellness fair.

Nursing Students Empower Middle Schoolers to Take Charge of their Health

Alliance Middle School students are more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices after attending a health and wellness fair presented by a group of senior nursing students from Kent State University College of Nursing. The adolescents rotated through four exhibits which focused on positive self-talk, mindfulness and stress management, the importance of sleep, and anti-bullying and building healthy relationships.

Prior to the creation of the health and wellness fair, the eight nursing students conducted a nursing assessment of Alliance, Ohio. According to the assessment, when comparing Alliance to other cities in Ohio, it experiences increased levels of poverty, domestic violence, and suicide. Using these results, the group developed a nursing diagnosis under the leadership and supervision of Pamela Rafferty-Semon, MSN-ED, RN. The diagnosis stated a knowledge deficit and lack of accessibility and awareness of health promotion resources and programs within the community has led to adolescents and their caregivers making poor health-related decisions.

Kent State University College of Nursing students Lareto Modiselle (left) and Brittney Cartlidge (right) share the building blocks to a healthy relationship at a health and wellness fair for Alliance Middle School.

“Many people don’t receive the help they need. By going to the school, we were able to get the students thinking and talking about these issues early on and hopefully prevent them from developing later in their lives,” said Anna Hunker, a nursing student at Kent State University.  

Short lessons allowed the middle school students to talk about the stressors they are currently encountering. Many listed school, grades, family, friends and social media as the things that cause them to lose sleep and feel discouraged each day. The nursing students shared techniques for handling these stressful situations in positive and uplifting ways.

“We wanted to show the students there were easy tools they could use now to reduce their stress,” said Hunker. “At our station we taught simple yoga stretches for relaxation and had the students sample lavender, tea tree or eucalyptus essential oil infused lotion, which can assist in promoting better sleep, relieving muscle or join pain, reducing inflammation, and boosting the immune system.”  

The activities, in combination with the lessons, allowed the students to better comprehend the topics being discussed. At the end of the health fair, each student was able to identify positive ways to reduce stress and increase mindfulness, could transform negative thoughts into positive statements, understood the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule and learned to identify different types of bullying and what actions to take in those situations.  

“We showed how each area overlapped by telling the students if we do not manage our stress, that can lead to a sleepless night. Having no sleep may cause us to do poorly in school and may encourage us to engage in negative self-talk,” said senior nursing student Katelyn Pittman. “By including a message of stress prevention at each station, we reinforced all of the topics the students were learning about.”

About Kent State University’s College of Nursing

In existence for 50 years, the College of Nursing at Kent State University is one of the largest and most comprehensive nursing programs in the nation with more than 12,000 alumni worldwide. As part of Kent State’s eight-campus system, the college provides more than 2,000 nursing students courses of study at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels.

Learn more about nursing programs at Kent State